Muskingum River Power Plant
Muskingum River Power Plant is a coal power station located on the Muskingum River, near Waterford, Ohio. It is owned by American Electric Power and has been producing electricity since 1953. Since the first unit was opened, it has gone on to expand to having five units in total, making it one of the country’s largest power stations in the U.S. Between them, the five units have a capacity of 1,400 MWe, which is enough to power a large portion of the local area’s electricity needs.
Environmentally, the Muskingum River Power Plant is considered a reasonably large polluter by the EPA, recently being ranked second in the country for one type of pollutant, sulfur dioxide. Since this survey was carried out in 2007 and the number one power station has since installed more environmentally friendly equipment, it is likely that the Muskingum River plant now tops the list. Developers have announced plans for the emissions of Unit 5 to be reduced within the near future.
The issue of waste heat is also a major concern for many nearby residents. All of the waste heat produced is released in to the Muskingum River, which has been claimed to threaten wildlife that may be present.
Perhaps in response to these environmental concerns, AEP recently filed a Request for Proposal to bring up to 20,000 tons of biomass pellets to the Muskingum River Plant. These pellets, made of untreated organic materials derived from plants, would be burned at the plant along with coal, hopefully allowing less coal to be used but still maintain normal operations. Under the terms of this proposal, delivery would be completed by December 2011.
However, the combustion of biomass instead of coal may not remedy all of the plant’s health risks. As with most power stations built during this period there was likely a large amount of asbestos used in construction. Although it was used to protect the equipment from the effects of the considerable heat output in Muskingum River and similar plants, it was later discovered that asbestos was a major factor in the onset of various cancers and asbestosis, both of which can be deadly to those that contract them.